CBA makes coaches, teams jointly responsible for offseason violations

AP

Some of you have asked why the NFL fined both the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll for violating the rules prohibiting contact during offseason workouts.  It’s a new twist to the 2011 labor deal, which contains enhanced penalties for the team and the coach if/when offseason workouts result in contact.

Prior to 2011, the labor deal prohibited offseason contact, and a certain amount of it routinely was ignored.  Only in egregious cases would the league get involved, with teams losing one or more OTA days and fines rarely if ever imposed.

Carroll didn’t receive a fine when the Seahawks violated the rules two years ago, presumably under the portion of Article 21, Section 8 that allows the Commissioner to reduce or eliminate fines if the violation resulted from a good-faith interpretation of the rules or if the violation wasn’t “material.”

This time around, the Commissioner opted to fine Carroll more than $100,000 — but less than the $250,000 specified for a second offense.  The Seahawks were fined more than $200,000 for the second offense — but less than the $500,000 specified for a second offense.  This suggests that the Commissioner believed the certain circumstances justified a reduction in the fines contemplated by the CBA.

While the Seahawks reportedly have lost “at least two minicamp practices in 2015,” the rules contemplate the elimination not of minicamp practices but of a week of OTAs.  If two violations occur in the same league year, the team also loses a fourth-round draft pick.

Violations of the rules against offseason contact are inevitable, given that players are competing for roster spots and depth-chart position.  But the Seahawks have become the first team to receive a fine for violating offseason rules under the new CBA, and Carroll has become the first coach to personally be fined for an offseason workout violation.  Whatever happened was noteworthy, but also isolated.

Otherwise, the fines would have been much higher, and the Seahawks would have lost a fourth-round draft pick.